San Francisco—Postings on social site Twitter may be a misleading barometer of the opinions of the public at large, according to research from the Pew Research Center.
The yearlong study compared the tone of Twitter posts about such major news events as the presidential debates, major speeches or Supreme Court decisions with the results of national polls also conducted by Pew. Twitter posts tended to be generally more negative about conservative political positions than the views of the general public, according to the study. However, negative conservative tweets predominated after President Obama's second inaugural and 2012 State of the Union addresses, both of which were received positively by the public at large, Pew found.
Political reactions on Twitter reflect a combination of the unique profile of active users and how events engage them and elicit comments, according to the report. As a result, Twitter “does not reliably correlate with the overall reaction of adults nationwide,” the report concluded.